Guest Historical-Romance-Writer-Chick, Vanessa Kelly

Welcome Vanessa Kelly! This fabo author writes Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra.  Her next book, My Favorite Countess, comes out in May.  Her latest book, An Invitation To Sin, is still available on-line and in bookstores.  You can visit Vanessa on-line at: 

One very lucky commenter will win a copy of her anthology, An Invitation to Sin!  Be sure to include your email address in your comment. 🙂


I was born into an Irish-Italian-American family, so I spent a lot of time in the kitchen when I was growing up.  Both sides of the family had many aunts, uncles, and cousins, which meant lots of people hanging out at various kitchen tables, eating, drinking, and shooting the breeze.  Thankfully for me, the Italian side of the family was my mother’s—to this day, she’s the best cook I ever met.  When she died, my siblings and I photocopied every recipe she ever used and cobbled it together into a book.  I still use those recipes on a daily basis.

And I still spend a lot of time in the kitchen:  my kitchen, which also serves as an office and writing space.

Today I’m working on a prequel chapter to post on my website.  It’s for my next book, My Favorite Countess, which will be released on May 3rd.  I often use the kitchen table to write on my Alphasmart, so I can spread out my notes and reference books and have plenty of room to work.

 And since today is Sunday, my dad and stepmother are coming for dinner, so I’m making one of the old family favorites—spaghetti and meatballs.  I got everything assembled and ready to go early in the afternoon.


I always use my mother’s recipe when I cook spaghetti and meatballs.  It’s a bit labor intensive, but always worth it.  The trick to my mother’s fabulous meatballs is that she used three kinds of ground meat—beef, pork, and veal.  It’s not always easy to track those three down, so just do the best you can.  Even with beef, it will still taste great.  Oh, and by the way, Italians call it gravy, not sauce!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • ½ cup bread crumbs (she used Progresso bread crumbs, but any kind will do)
  • ½ cup locatelli or parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped fine
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 lbs. ground beef-pork-veal mixture (using the 3 kinds of meat really gives it the flavor)
  • Additional pork or beef bones
  • Salt, pepper, garlic salt
  • 1 can peeled Italian plum tomatoes, crushed (she always bought the whole ones and crushed them by hand)
  • 2 cans tomato paste
  • Garlic clove, minced
  • ½ diced onion (optional)
  • Olive oil

In a large pot, sauté the pork or beef bones on medium-low heat in 1/3 cup olive oil (she actually used 2 Tbl. rendered pork fat!).

Mix meat mixture together with the breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, and eggs. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic salt.  Shape and form meatballs.

Remove bones from oil and fry meatballs until they have a good, fairly thick brown crust. You’ll have to do this in batches, not allowing the meatballs in the pot to touch each other.

When all the meatballs are cooked, remove, drain on paper towels, and set aside.

Add to the pot: the minced garlic, diced onion. Cook on low until onions sweat a bit. Add the tomato paste. Using the tomato paste can, add three cans of water per can of tomato paste (or 6 cans of water). Cook for two or three minutes over medium heat.

Add the can of tomatoes, crushed and with stems removed. Stir to blend. Bring to a low boil.

Turn down sauce to simmer, and add meatballs. Simmer for two to three hours. Adjust the seasoning to taste – salt and pepper.

Serve with pasta of your choice.

I have some of my mother’s other recipes posted on my website.  You can check them out at:

As you can see, I really enjoy spending time in the kitchen.  How could I not?  It’s in the genes—both Irish and Italian!


25 thoughts on “Guest Historical-Romance-Writer-Chick, Vanessa Kelly

  1. Goodness, that sounds delicious! Do you serve garlic bread with this? I wouldn’t want to miss a bit of that ‘gravy’.

    Can’t wait to read My Favorite Countess. Lovely cover. 🙂

  2. Vanessa, thank you so much for your post! It sounds SO good.

    I couldn’t work in my kitchen. Too many distractions. Like the cookies in the pantry calling out to me…

  3. You know, Gillian, my mom used to make garlic bread all the time with her pasta, but I’ve fallen out of the habit. Thanks for reminding me!

    Abigail, there are inherent dangers to working in the kitchen, and you’ve just identified the greatest one!

  4. Please do not enter my name in contest, I already won your book ‘An Invitation to Sin’, great read! 😀

    Wow Vanessa, your work areas are so orderly! Everything looks like it better not step out of line, wish I had that kind of order. LOL!

    Did I notice a Keriug machine on your counter? Don’t you just love it!
    I use mine for tea mostly, hot or cold, hubby is the coffee drinker.

    Your Spaghetti and Meatball recipe sounds delicious! I’ve made many a meatball and I have to agree with you on the three meats. If you can locate all three meats the meatballs will be a bit more tasty.

    Anxiously awaiting your next book, ‘My Favorite Countess’, especially seeing that its release day is going to be May 3rd!! LOL!!

    Wonderful post, have a great day!

  5. Your recipe sounds very similar to the one that my sister-in-law makes. Her mother-in-law is Italian and, she always uses her recipe. I agree with you, the three different meats makes all the difference. I’m going to copy your recipe and try it myself. Thanks for sharing. BTW, I love neat and orderly kitchens myself.

  6. Hi Abigail! Thanks for stopping by!

    Hi Dalila – thanks for the kind words for Sin! And I must confess that I cleaned everything up for the pictures. My work areas are usually much less orderly, although I am a bit of a neat freak. And, yes. We love our Keurig!

  7. Spaghetti was a staple when I was growing up, but my son never cared for it. Since it was only him and me I stopped making it. This recipe sounds so good I’m going to have to add it to my must try list and put spagetti back on the menu. 😉

    • Thing 1 likes to pretend he doesn’t like spaghetti but he ate some last night without commenting.

      Both boys like meatballs, but neither like tomato sauce. Unless it’s on pizza. I’m sure I can get around this somehow… 🙂

  8. My work area will never look that clean. LOL This sounds like a great recipe. Can’t wait to try it.

    Your family mix sounds like mine. English/Scottish/American Indian/Iceland/Norse/French. Sometimes it makes me feel like a mutt at the pound. LOL

    Can’t wait for the new book!

  9. I’m so glad to read that your photos are not how your daily workspace looks. I’d go nuts trying to work in any place that neat and organized!

    I’d love a shot at that book, so please enter my name in the drawing.

    And I’ll be sharing your recipe with the hubby, who is the cook chez moi. Thanks!

  10. Yum! I admire your organizational skills. You have multi-tasking down to an art form.

    But if I wrote in the kitchen I’d weight 500 pounds. You must also have exceptional will power or formidable genes!

    Wishing you all the best!

    a sun-baked Georgia peach

  11. I adore Italian food , if I could eat it all the time I would even better if I could move to Italy and have meatballs and spaggetti everyday I so would !

    This recipe is stunning I made it tonight for my family and guess what ..they freaked out about it I got so many compliments and they all wanted to know where I got it from of course I gave full credit to yourself and your mum!

    Thank you for sharing your amazing food with us 1

  12. Thank you so much for sharing your meatballs & “gravy” recipe with us, Vanessa! I love to see others’ writing spaces and love that yours shares space in the kitchen–the heart of every home.

    Please stop in again soon to share another fabulous recipe and give us a hint of the story you’re working on now. 🙂

    My husband picked the winner of An Invitation to Sin out of my brand new make-up bag (free from Target and full of beauty samples 😉 and the name is…Linda! I’ll send you her email address. Thanks for offering this great prize!


  13. Hello to everyone who commented! Stay tuned to the Chicks in the Kitchen for more chances to win other good stuff from time to time. You never know what it will be (and neither do we until inspiration hits), but winning something no matter what it is is always fun! 🙂


  14. WooHoo!! Congrats Linda!! 😀
    Happy reading!

    Great contest Lis’Anne, had a nice time with your guest Vanessa Kelly, plus added a new delicious recipe to my growing pile of recipes in my messy kitchen. LOL!!

    YAY for Chicks in the Kitchen!!!

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